Oh, where to begin. Ok, for starters, there are steps that you want to take when perusing the shelves of a Christian bookstore for the perfect Amish fiction title. Before you start looking, you’ll want to narrow down your options. There’s plenty to choose from, so let’s dive right in!
Disclaimer: The books displayed below may or may not actually feature these satirical storylines. But they’re close enough.;)
Ah, the original point of interest for Amish fiction writers. First off, what you want to look for is an cover displaying a generic-looking woman staring wistfully into the distance while holding a quilt, doily, dishtowel, or other inanimate object. Next, you should flip the book over and look for something along these lines: On the outside, Mary Beth is the perfect Amish girl. She goes to meeting, sews her own clothes, and churns butter once a week. What her friends don’t know is that she lives a very different life from the one they can see…..To be sure and certain, open the book to a random page and see if the main character is having an awkward conversation with someone who she thinks knows her secret. Even better, see if someone from her ‘secret life’ shows up in the Amish community and she has to awkwardly claim that they are someone they’re not. Just for grins, flip to the final chapters and see if she has either been shunned, converted to an Englisher life, or rejected her wild fantasies of living in the real world and accepted her fate as a good little housewife.
This one is a real doozy. First, you want to look for an eye-catching cover, like a pregnant woman in a field of flowers, holding/wearing flowers, and staring at her stomach. Hey look! There’s one right up there! Then you’ll want to flip the book over and scan the plot description, it should say something like: Will her secret be found out? Will her circumstances cause her and her true love to be shunned? To be sure, open the book to the middle. Something like this should be happening: the hero and heroine stand face to face as the moonlight/sunlight shines down on her flowing hair and his muscular physique. They lean forward for their first kiss….and…her water breaks! If this doesn’t convince you that this plot is the real deal, flip to the final chapters and see if the hero delivers the woman’s child outside in the rain, in the backseat of his buggy, or in the middle of an Amish church service. The hero may also be fighting with the heroine’s relatives in the hospital room/waiting room, in a fistfight with the child’s father, or passed out on the floor. The novel gets bonus points if the hero is an EMT/firefighter/policeman/conservation officer/doctor/nurse/midwife/nurse practitioner, or if the heroine almost dies in labor/has premature labor at least twice/is kidnapped by her evil former love/has a final showdown with her sadistic parents that causes her to go into labor.
I see you, oh commonplace work of Amish fiction. This plot is considered standard for Amish fiction. First, you’ll want to look for a generic book cover that doesn’t stand out. Like a woman in all black with her face cut out of the picture standing in the forefront, with an Amish buggy creeping up on her that is probably driven by her eventual love interest. Oh look! I see one right up there! Next, you know the drill! Flip it over and check out the back cover. You should see something like: Susan just lost the man of her dreams. In pursuit of a better life for her son/daughter, she has reluctantly taken up her parents’ offer to return home. While there, Susan will learn that the heart can learn to love again. You know what’s up, now open the book and see if the protagonist if having a remember-when conversation with someone she knows from childhood upon returning to her hometown. Additionally, she could be weakly resisting the charms of her love interest, rebuking her matchmaking child, or helping her mother bake bread while enduring a lecture on why she never should have married her late husband. Just FYI, the actual advertisement for the above novel says: ” Experience what it means to love without modern distraction” What does this even mean!?!?
At last we reach Christmas with the Amish. If the front cover doesn’t feature an Amish buggy in the snow, an Amish couple holding hands and laughing under the mistletoe, an old Amish woman in a rocking chair looking out a window while sewing a kapp, or a muscular Amish man chopping wood by a holly bush, don’t waste your time. You know you have the right book if the back cover says something like: Christmas has come to Ella’s small Amish community, but she just isn’t into it this year. All she can think about is how her father died on Christmas Eve last year under mysterious circumstances while climbing into the hayloft, and how she can keep avoiding that cute Amish boy next door who wants to marry her. That cute Amish boy and her will have to work together to uncover the truth in the circumstances surrounding her father’s death. To be sure, you can flip to the middle of the book and see if she and that boy are being held captive by her father’s killers, only to be rescued by a handsome Englischer – who ultimately creates a love triangle. Who will she choose!?!?!?
As we reach the end of this post, what better way to come to a conclusion but with the most common of plots among Amish fiction? This is the one that made it all happen. Keep in mind that there are many variations on the same idea that all come down to the same conclusion, so don’t get confused! First you want to look for generic and uninspiring cover art, the novel pictured above is a perfect example. I like to call the art displayed above Confusion in the Midst of Order. Basically you want to look for a single Amish woman in a rocking chair looking wistfully past a hearth and daydreaming about the Englischer life, an Amish woman standing with her back to the viewer watching a sunset while looking at a graven image (a secret photograph of her fully clothed true love), a young Amish woman with her kapp cast aside on the ground standing alone with her arms crossed, or a ‘rebellious’ Amish teen holding an instrument of eternal damnation – a guitar, car keys, or a bottle of hairspray. Then you want to page through the first chapters and see if the character is secretly angry all the time, arguing with her (its pretty much always a female lead) parents, or berating herself for not adhering to the religion of their heritage. To be sure though, you’ll want to look forward and see if she gives in to temptation and decides to commit the unholy trio of fictional Amish sins. 1. Take off her kapp and go out in public with hair not in a bun. 2. Hold hands with a man who is not Amish (and now for the unpardonable sin) 3. Shave her legs and wear a non floor length skirt! (shocked gasp). To be for sure and for certain, you can check the ending and see if the protagonist has either given herself fully to the ways of the world (marries an Englischer) or gone home to be a good little daughter again…until next time. At this point, you’ve read the entirety of all these books and should probably leave the bookstore before closing time! Otherwise you’ll be locked in – surrounded by Amish fiction books…..f..o..r..e..v..e..r….
Or you could leave and never have to read another Amish fiction book again!
For sure and for certain!;P